The bizarre, brilliant facts that only die-hard fans will know
Alexandra Pollard
14:23 20th August 2015

20 August 2015: Today, Robert Plant, the lead singer of one of the most influential rock bands of the 20th century, turns 67. His former bandmate Jimmy Page might have dashed fans' hopes earlier this month by saying he "can't foresee" the band ever reforming, but that can't take away from all that they contributed to the music world.

Even if you're a huge Zeppelin fan, such is the length and breadth of their rollercoaster of a career, that there's probably plenty you never knew about them. Did you know, for example, that Keith Moon is responsible for their name? Or that Robert Plant wasn't first choice for lead singer?

Here are 12 brilliant, weird and fascinating facts about Led Zeppelin. Robert, you probably already knew all these, but we hope you have a great day.

  • On lead singer Robert Plant's 67th birthday, we've taken a lot at some of the obscure, fascinating things you might not have known about Led Zeppelin - from dabblings with the occult to how Keith Moon named the band. Click through for some weird and wonderful facts.

  • The band's fourth album is actually untitled: The band's first three albums were named simply Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II and Led Zeppelin III. While the fourth is widely referred to as IV, it actually doesn't have a name. "After all we'd accomplished, the press was still calling us a hype," Jimmy Page explained, "So that is why the fourth album was untitled." The decision infuriated the band's label and confused fans.

  • The band's name was indirectly inspired by Keith Moon: Two years before the band formed, The Who's Keith Moon and John Entwistle recorded with the future members of Led Zeppelin. The track come out so well, they floated the idea of forming a band. Moon joked that the band would go down "like a lead balloon", and Page is said to have remembered the joke when forming Led Zeppelin (a Zeppelin is a blimp-shaped, balloon-like airship).

  • Jimmy Page dabbled in satanism and black magic: Though the extent of Page's affiliation with the occult was always kept deliberately vague, he did buy the house belonging to ceremonial magician Aleister Crowley, and later claimed that it was haunted. "A man was beheaded there," he told Rolling Stone. "Sometimes you can hear his head rolling down."

  • The rumours about 'Stairway To Heaven' played backwards aren't true: Televangelist Paul Crouch alleged that when you play the classic song in reverse, the lyrics become, "Here's to my sweet Satan... He will give those with him 666" etc. It's something that, for some strange reason, has gained traction over the last few decades. It's not deliberate though. "Why on Earth would we ever thought of doing that?" said Robert Plant. "You've got to have a lot of time on your hands to even consider that people would do that."

  • Jimmy Page didn't always want to be a rock star: During a rather adorable appearance on TV talent show On Your Own in 1957, where Page was part of a teenage skiffle band, he was asked by the host if he wanted to be a musician when he grew up. No, he said, he wanted to work in biological research. Not a doctor though, "not enough brains for that." Don't be so self-deprecating Jimmy.

  • Jimmy Page wanted Terry Reid, not Robert Plant, to front the band: Page approached Reid about fronting his new band, who at the time were called The New Yardbirds. Unfortunately, Reid had just been signed as a solo act by Micki Most, and recommended that Page try Robert Plant instead. That worked out pretty well.

  • Jimmy Page financed the band's debut album himself: After suffering through his management's desperate attempts to turn the band into a pop group, Page was terrified that he might end up losing artistic control. To ensure this didn't happen, he decided to finance their entire debut album out of his own pocket.

  • The band are bad at turning their phones off: To be fair, they didn't really have phones that you could "turn off" in 1973, so maybe we should forgive them for the fact that you can hear a phone audibly ringing about 1:37 into 'The Ocean' from Houses Of The Holy. Clearly they decided it wasn't noticeable enough to warrant re-recording, but that didn't stop super-fans from picking up (no pun intended) on it.

  • Robert Plant posed as a music journalist to get into a festival: We're not entirely sure why saying, "I'm Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin" wouldn't be enough to get access to pretty much anywhere you could ever hope to go, but it seems that's not the case. Plant told The Guardian that he once posed as an NME journalist to get into a festival in Marrakech. "I could get right to the front with my recorder," he said, "and there were a lot of Berber rhythms that were spectacular."

  • ABBA took Robert Plant to a sex club: The band recorded tracks for In Through The Out Door in ABBA's Polar Studios. According to an oft-repeated legend, Benny and Bjorn took Plant on a night-out to a nearby sex club after meeting him at the Stockholm studio.

  • Led Zeppelin had their own custom plane: Unfortunately, it wasn't an actual Zeppelin, but the Starship did have a bar with a keyboard organ built in, a video library and a shower room. Fancy.

  • Robert Plant recorded Presence while in a wheelchair: In 1976, Plant was in a horrible car crash while in Greece. He narrowly escaped with his life, and was in terrible physical pain, but still persevered through recording sessions for 1976 album Presence.

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Photo: Press